– Harbour ferry suddenly cancelled for Esquimalt
Do you have guests visiting this summer and planned to take them for a harbour ferry ride out of Esquimalt? Well, you had better make other plans.
Mayor Barb Desjardins delivered some very distressing news for the community of Esquimalt at last night’s Council meeting. Due to an irresolvable business negotiations dispute between the Victoria Harbour Ferry operators and Westbay Marina management, water taxi services linking Esquimalt with the rest of Victoria Harbour have ceased and desisted effectively immediately.
The service has been permanently cancelled and will deliver a devastating blow to Esquimalt’s tourism development.
“This ferry service was considered a major part of our tourism strategy that will no longer exist,” declared Mayor Desjardins.
Desjardins indicated that the municipality as well as area businesses such as West Bay restaurants and B&Bs tried desperately to intervene to help resolve the dispute but were unsuccessful in bringing the two parties to a successful agreement.
The Victoria Harbour Ferry Company began in 1990 with just two ferry boats and steadily grew in demand to a fleet of 14 small passenger ferries that sail the waters around Victoria’s Inner Harbour and the neighbouring Selkirk and Gorge Waterways.
Prior to shutting down, the ferry service ran three times per hour during all daylight hours into Esquimalt. The service for other parts of Victoria Harbour will continue uninterrupted but will now pass by Esquimalt without stopping.
Esquimalt residents that use the service for commuting to downtown and have purchased pre-paid passes will be provided with full refunds.
Mayor Desjardins pledged to work towards a solution and has asked municipal staff to prepare a report on possible actions that could help reinstate the service. As the predicament stems from a private sector dispute, however, there is likely very little the municipality can do to resolve the matter and that means a lot of added stress for our local businesses that cater to the tourism market.
Perhaps, as Esquimalt residents, we can all do our part in supporting restaurants, shops, and B&Bs in the Westbay area that will now need our business more than ever.